There might not be a nerdier band name/album name combination than Princeton‘s Remembrance of Things to Come. L.A.-based identical twin brothers Jesse and Matt Kivel (no relation to this writer) filled their second album with a batch of similarly smart, quirky indie pop, complete with help from the orchestral seven-piece Los Angeles New Music Ensemble. While their last album (2009’s Cocoon of Love) surrounded itself in the buzz swarm of Vampire Weekend’s world music peddling, the dominance of keys and strings places the four-piece into a clever new niche, one somewhere between synth rock and theatric indie pop.
Throughout the disc, lead vocalist Jesse Kivel sounds like an other-world Owen Pallett (though perhaps not quite as emphatic), his low-slung, lithe delivery poking and prodding through orchestral flourishes. Similar to Pallett’s work, these songs are designed to lure the listener into a world and then overload it with shimmering musicality. Despite the surprisingly large amount of marimba, this is a subdued landscape, one that blends its brightly colored edges with round-toned synths and smoldering horns.
Rather than sounding quite as dramatic as Pallett, Remembrance of Things to Come weaves synths into the mix in order to shade things into a hazier beauty, swirling like leaves on a fall afternoon. “Florida” relies on ultra-staccato synth, marimba, and string stabs, yet the keyboards still manage to make the thing sound loose and whorled.
Whether it’s on the introspective “Riches” (which wonders aloud whether the singer ever truly loved) or the wobbly insistence of “Grand Rapids”, drummer David Kitz keeps things flowing with his tight, frenetic rhythms. Bassist Matt Kivel and keyboardist Ben Usen combine for some delicate grooves, and the Ensemble adds in detailed atmospherics and stunning structural work to flesh things out. The swirling pallet does drone a bit, but the band has certainly carved out their own unique sound that should impress synth-heads and orchestral pop fans alike.
Essential Tracks: “Florida”, “Riches”